Direct, direct, direct is best is a well-worn mantra in the hotel business. So why then has Red Lion recently gone and handed over its loyalty program, and all its future direct business, to Expedia?
It was discovered last month, this smaller US-based chain has climbed into bed with Expedia and sister site Hotels.com by allowing them to show members only rates. At the same time, the OTAs are also allowed to auto enroll non-members in Red Lion’s Hello Rewards program. In exchange, Red Lion gets the customer’s email address and, very likely, to pay much lower commissions. Responses to the move from hoteliers, former hoteliers and other industry commentators have ranged from ‘pretty strange’ and ‘a move in the right direction for data sharing’ to ‘setting a dangerous precedent for the industry’.
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